Maria Romero, BS ’22, Awarded Behavioral Health Fellowship
Rising senior Maria Romero, BS ’22, received a Behavioral Health Undergraduate Social Work Fellowship from the Northeast Regional Alliance (NERA) Health Careers Opportunity Program in partnership with the Mount Sinai Department of Social Work. The six-week, summer fellowship program includes didactic lectures and seminars, interdisciplinary educational sessions, supervised clinical experience and mentoring, along with academic advising and support to prepare fellows for competitive applications to graduate social work programs.
Maria, who was born and raised in Fort Lee, NJ, said she realized by her junior year in high school that she wanted to go into social work. “The first thing I knew about social work was its role in mental health treatment. I liked the idea of helping people and I’d taken career aptitude tests that suggested I would be good at it.” She said she chose NYU Silver for its great reputation, location in the heart of New York City, and the generous scholarship she received.
Through her fellowship, Maria said, she is strengthening her behavioral health knowledge and getting clinical exposure in different hospital departments. “On Mondays, we have a full day of online lectures and seminars with social workers and related professionals who talk to us about their work, share case studies, and answer questions. The rest of the week, I have in-person placements.” She spends Tuesdays and Thursdays in Mount Sinai’s geriatrics department and Wednesdays and Fridays in the OBGYN clinic. “My mentor in geriatrics, Lizzete Munoz, happens to run two relatively new programs,” Maria said. “As a result, I get to see her developing the way that the programs should run and, at the same, I get to talk to her supervisor. My other mentor, Anaurys De Leon, is the obstetrics infectious disease social worker, so I get to see her do screenings of all the moms who have HIV and follow them through their pregnancy. I have done case studies in school, of course, but it’s different hearing people’s stories firsthand.”
Maria said she learned about the fellowship from Silver’s Undergraduate Program Administrator, Christine Tabone, who was also her Social Welfare Agencies and Organizations instructor. “She reached out to me and said ‘there’s a fellowship I think you’d be interested in’ and when I applied, she wrote a recommendation for me.”
Said Tabone, “Maria is a star. During COVID, she had sought out a volunteer opportunity in her community that ended up becoming her field placement. With her passion, intelligence, and commitment to serving her community, I knew she would thrive in this fellowship program.”
Asked about the faculty members who have been most influential, Maria cited Tabone as well as Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Robert L. Hawkins. Maria added, “All of my classes at Silver have been impactful. We have 15-20 people in a class and we actually get to interact with the professors rather than being in a lecture hall full of hundreds of people. I know my classmates and I know my professors. I always want to pay attention and I really learn things.”
As she heads into her senior year, Maria, who is minoring in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies, is planning to apply to MSW programs, including NYU Silver’s. She hasn’t decided what area of social work she wants to specialize in, but her interests include geriatrics and animal assisted therapy. Whatever area she chooses, she said she sees herself working with the Spanish speaking population. “I speak Spanish and my family are immigrants,” she explained. “Serving the Spanish speaking population resonates for me.”